The Scottish Ballet’s The Snow Queen capped off the company’s 50th anniversary season from December 2019. Choreographed by Christopher Hampson with set designs by the award-winning Lez Brotherston, this imaginative two-act ballet is perfect for families. The 90-minute wintry Snow Queen ballet (sans intervals) loosely follows Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, Snow Queen – which also inspired the hit movie, Frozen. Although the plot differs, children will still enjoy watching the story unfold, led by strong female characters.
The Snow Queen show by the Scottish Ballet was filmed live in Edinburgh at Festival Theatre and broadcast by BBC Scotland on April 25, 2020; it remained on BBC iPlayer for one month.
The Snow Queen Story
The Snow Queen ballet story line is a simplified version of the Snow Queen fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Two sisters, the Snow Queen and the Summer Princess, live in an ice castle. The Summer Princess leaves after a mirror foretells of a man (Kai) in her future; she assumes a new life as a pickpocket named Lexi. The Snow Queen begs her sister to come back, but the Summer Princess refuses. Then the Snow Queen bewitches and kidnaps Kai; so, Kai’s fiancee, Gerda, journeys to save him at the ice palace.
The Snow Queen Ballet Review
This ballet goes the distance, bringing the audience on multiple stops in a magical world. At a winter market, we’re caught up in the showy performance of a traveling circus, then we’re transported to a camp of swashbuckling bandits before venturing into the Snow Queen’s icy realm. The full-bodied dancing that sweeps across stage is bold and easy to follow; the modern ballet doesn’t require the analysis of small, intricate gestures or drag the entire corps de ballet out just to perform pedestrian steps.
The silvery blonde Snow Queen herself (Constance Devernay) dances both precision and ferocity, which her Summer Princess sister (Kayla-Maree Tarantolo) can’t match. But her character comes alive after she flees the palace and assumes the persona of Lexi – a marauding thief. Dancing sans pointe shoes, she can perform more freely, as she charismatically pickpockets townspeople and slyly scopes out Gerda’s fiance Kai (Andrew Peasgood). After Kai is abducted by the Snow Queen, Lexi regularly wavers between helping and refusing to help Gerda.
We’re introduced to Kai and Gerda (Bethany Kingsley-Garner) at their public engagement. Following their playful pas de deux, a shard of ice to the eye turns Kai angry – and at the ice palace, he becomes the Snow Queen’s besotted devotee. The unassuming Gerda shows a stony resolve to save Kai, as she encounters bandits and a variety of wintry creatures. She remains steadfast, forthright and determined to reach Kai and nurture him back to health – even when he no longer remembers her.
During their reconciliation, Gerda gently allows Kai to come around, reckoning with his experience. The two fall back into phrases from their earlier duet, hands touching palm to palm – in a “holy palmer’s kiss,” as Shakespeare’s Romeo would say. United, they spoke their arms skyward and embark on their future together.
Christopher Hampson’s The Snow Queen is, as advertised, a ‘glittering winter tale.’ It’s also an adventurous, yet lighthearted, production that is enhanced by wonderful stage elements to create smooth transitions between scenes. The ballet could easily become a family favorite; however, despite its already short 90-minute run time, it could still trim out a bit of fat.
Did you manage to watch Scottish Ballet’s Snow Queen in Edinburgh – or catch it online? And if youngsters saw it with you, what were their reactions? Let us know in the comments below.